Anterior/Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury
What is Anterior/Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury?
The anterior or cranial cruciate ligament is one of the ligaments that supports and stabilizes the knee or stifle joint. An acute injury to the joint or chronic degeneration of the joint and ligament may result in a partial or complete tear and thus instability of the knee.
How does my cat get Anterior/Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury?
As a result of an acute injury, such as a bite wound, being hit by a moving car, or other trauma that results in hyperextension or internal rotation of the knee may lead to a partial or complete tear. In chronic situations, the already weakened ligament is more prone to rupture from only the slightest injury. Degenerative causes include: aging, conformational abnormalities, lack of use.
How do I know if my cat has Anterior/Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury?
Unlike dogs, cats tend to do their best to mask their pain or any signs of weakness to avoid being perceived as prey. In acute ACL injuries, there is usually a traumatic or ‘athletic’ event that occurred – such as being struck by a car or falling hard to the floor from a high perch. As a result, there is limping and non-weight bearing of the injured leg. You may notice that your cat is more stationary and not wanting to move around much. In those cases where there is no history of trauma, the ACL damage was probably degenerative in nature. Partial tears may present as on-again, off-again lameness for weeks to months. These are very prone to complete tears. Depending upon the degree of injury and amount of damage, whether it is an acute or chronic injury, and whether there are other knee injuries (meniscal tears), the lameness may be significant or mild. Your veterinarian will look for signs of swelling, perform a number of tests to the knee and take some radiographs. These tests usually are sufficient to confirm a tear. The most common test done is to look for an “anterior drawer sign.” This test along with swelling, pain, lameness and certain radiographic evidence will confirm an ACL injury.
What can I do about Anterior/Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury?
Do not attempt to try to treat your cat for a ligament sprain or tear with at-home measures. To ensure your cat heals completely and at a steady pace, have your veterinarian outline the treatment plan. At home, do your best to keep your injured cat quiet and kept in a cozy, small area to reduce the risk of him trying to leap or run or climb and further injuring the ligament. Also keep your cat indoors or train them to wear a harness and leash for short outdoor walks. In a complete tear of the ACL, the knee will remain unstable unless there is surgery performed to stabilize the knee. In cats – and small dogs -- conservative treatment including restricted activity, pain medications, weight control, and confinement may lead to improvement. The surgery may be performed by a skilled veterinarian or referred to a board-certified surgeon. The success rates for these surgical procedures are quite high.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my cat from getting Anterior/Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury?
You cannot always prevent your cat from spills or collisions that result in injured or torn ligaments. But you can provide your cat with the right daily portions of high-quality commercial foods to maintain him at a healthy weight. Overweight or obese cats tend to put more stress on their knees, making them more at risk for ligament injuries.
Are there certain breeds that get Anterior/Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury more often?
No. This condition can strike any cat of any breed at any age. However, cats who are overweight, obese or act like feline daredevils may be at a greater risk for this condition.